Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Khawaja convicted, but no terror plot proven

When the Toronto Eighteen was captured just over two years ago, it was seen as a huge coup for the Harper Conservatives although the investigation actually began well before under the Liberals. Since then, things have been falling off the wheels of that case with at least seven of the alleged conspirators having charges against them dropped or stayed.

Today, in an unrelated case dating two years earlier in 2004, an Ottawa man named Mohmammad Momin Khawaja was convicted on seven violations of Canada's anti-terror laws. It was the first test of the zero tolerance statute passed after 9/11.

But in a huge loss for the Crown, the judge ruled that while Khawaja was aware of the activities of the group he was involved with, he did not know the exact use of the device called the "Hi-Fi Digimonster." Since no specific plot link could be determined, or even if it was meant for terrorism, Khawaja qualifies for a less stringent sentence -- which is still a maximum of life but with far less time for parole; and given he's already served four in custody he just might get time served.

Whatever sentence Khawaja gets from a Canadian court is well deserved. But the fact no conspiracy could be proven demonstrates that the system is not serious about actually making the connection to genuine, real terror plots. They had better do so, before it is too late.

That principle applies no matter which party is in power.

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